Human Zoos and Ota Benga

In September 1906, visitors to the Bronx Zoo found a new exhibit. Standing in a cage in the Monkey House was not an animal, but a young man, dressed in a loincloth and holding a bow with arrows. Though many details of his life are uncertain, what we do know of Ota Benga is a tragic story of a man who suffered much at the hands of his fellow men. It is history that deserves to be remembered.
This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As very few images of the actual event are available in the Public Domain, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.
You can purchase the bow tie worn in this episode at The Tie Bar:
All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.
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Script by JCG
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  • ✊🏾🥺

    Renné EdwardsRenné Edwards4 өдрийн өмнө
  • Where’s the Doc Netflix????

    JBOM9000JBOM90006 өдрийн өмнө
  • Beautifully done video. Thank you for giving this man some dignity. He’d been so thoroughly stripped of it it life. Does the zoo have a memorial or anything today honoring the man treated like nothing?

    Noelle Alexandria NoelleXandria on Insta-OnlyfansNoelle Alexandria NoelleXandria on Insta-Onlyfans11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Bless you for giving voice to this man, who seems to have been censored out of his own life.

    Holley MotherHolley Mother18 өдрийн өмнө
  • Wish his body would’ve been taken back home. He deserved to be laid to rest on African soil, not on stolen land filled with men who exploited and slaughtered Africans. R.I.P Benga❤️❤️❤️❤️

    M.R.A AngM.R.A Ang26 өдрийн өмнө
  • Oh gawd! how could they do this to him! He looks so sad in every picture of him. oh goil!!!! How dare they imply that hes different from Whites

    NormalStyleCrewNormalStyleCrew27 өдрийн өмнө
  • So he was enslaved by fellow Africans and sold as a slave by fellow Africans. Let’s not gloss over that fact, as if white people invented slavery in 1776 like the media suggests and the marxist professors teach. Everyone was complicit in slavery since the dawn of history. White people put an end to it though in the 19th century (where they had jurisdiction, anyway). Sad that it took that long. African leaders complained (read the letters from the king of benin), and slavery continues in Africa to this day. Nobody cares though... if it makes Africans look bad, it’s history that must be forgotten and ignored.

    Kalt KaltKalt KaltСарын өмнө
  • History Guy, I know you'll probably never see or reply to this but I want to say, you really are a great historian. Thank you for this episode, it was one of your most impressive, meaningful and moving ones.

    Yoichi yo! ヨイチよ!Yoichi yo! ヨイチよ!Сарын өмнө
  • A disturbing little story which is powerful in the current day and age.

    Frank GullaFrank GullaСарын өмнө
  • The one video, I can’t watch.

    James HammonsJames HammonsСарын өмнө
  • A difficult episode, but one truly worthy of the channel name. Thank you for talking about this man. He deserves to be remembered.

    Carl BrownCarl BrownСарын өмнө
  • Those who do no know history are doomed to repeat it

    The ShrivelsteinThe ShrivelsteinСарын өмнө
  • Humans are truly despicable

    hamdan azizhamdan azizСарын өмнө
  • Man’s greatest enemy is man!

    Joel PageJoel PageСарын өмнө
    • And man is the only one who can change that, fortunately most people are very against this and we’re definitely headed the right way.

      Thor_Lock_habibiThor_Lock_habibi25 өдрийн өмнө
  • We whites NEED TO UNDERSTAND.. Reparations is NOT ABOUT A HANDOUT. Foundational Black Americans were not paid their pensions for civil war yet the plantations were. FBA were not paid pensions for WW1,WW2, and MANY not for Korean war. Plus jim crow, gentrification, redlining, eminent domain, sundown towns. Our christian american GOVT both state and federal owe its black citizens.

    Adam XavierAdam XavierСарын өмнө
  • Well done. Give voice to the voice less.

    Thomas CruttendenThomas CruttendenСарын өмнө
  • Wow

    Eugene BellEugene BellСарын өмнө
  • I love your videos, and I believe they are very well researched (and told). That said, I'm actually a little surprised that you didn't cover the fact that Ota Benga (and others) were actually put in the zoo, and that the brains and skeletons (primarily skulls) were sent to various museums due solely to the theory of evolution. He was placed on display to show as a "missing link". This is why you have ministers that were up in arms, because they, and those of us that understand Biblical truth know that evolution is nothing more than a fanciful tale, and all humans are the same race. This may give you some additional information to complete your history of Ota Benga: Please don't take my comments as a slight - just additional clarification. I love what you do, and thank you for doing it!

    Dan ErwinDan ErwinСарын өмнө
  • RIP Benga. May you find your way back to the Congo

    The lizard of OzThe lizard of OzСарын өмнө
  • Because science...

    Joshua CraftJoshua CraftСарын өмнө
  • Science cannot fill the role of religion. Scientists should not be elevated to any role of moral responsibility or judgment. How many times must we relearn this lesson?

    Fortus VictusFortus VictusСарын өмнө
  • help support the pygmies of the Congo who were recently forcibly removed from the jungle. Their home for hundreds if not thousands of years

    Donovan PockrandtDonovan PockrandtСарын өмнө
  • This is disgusting on so many levels. How dare they treat human beings like this

    Ayiz AAyiz AСарын өмнө
  • Please share more histories giving voices to the voiceless.

    Butternut SquashButternut SquashСарын өмнө
  • This is one of your most sad history lessons . Thank you for bringing it to light. Keep up the good and the bad, history.

    bobm549bobm549Сарын өмнө
  • I very much like your videos, but wish you would stop panning over low resolution and/or out of focus images of documents. I keep thinking that will stop, but it doesn't.

    William DavisWilliam DavisСарын өмнө
    • Those photos are more than 100 years old, they didn’t have 50 megapixel cameras back then.

      Thor_Lock_habibiThor_Lock_habibi25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Mans inhumanity to our fellow man, our ignorance precedes us.

    Donnie L RoseDonnie L RoseСарын өмнө
  • No one could help raise the funds for the trip back? People were being snatched back forth every which a way, yet when it came to getting this one person back to where he wanted to be...there was 0 opportunity to do so? I had heard of his story before, but didn't know he ended his life. May God have his soul. May he be in a perfect eternal Africa now.

    Lana Jig-makerLana Jig-makerСарын өмнө
  • Could you talk about The African Dodger? That history is equally if not more messed up as a human zoo.

    littleferrhislittleferrhisСарын өмнө
  • It's just that something went into my eyes, must have been the cigarette smoke.

    Mária MartinuszMária MartinuszСарын өмнө
  • I believe if I am not mistaken that He was also at the St. Louis zoo for a short time.

    Jonathon LegginsJonathon LegginsСарын өмнө
  • Sir, let me note three things ion particular that I enjoy about you, your presentation, and your "snippets" First off, I have no idea how you voted. Thank you for that. Secondly, you have a humane voice. Mr. Benga's story is but the latest example. Thirdly, you comprehend DUTY. Your tales of soldiers, sailors, airmen, etcetera, reflect a respect for those who strive to perform their duty. As an old fire department medic, I especially appreciate that..

    Reltney McfeeReltney McfeeСарын өмнө
  • So very sad.

    Anita DuncanAnita DuncanСарын өмнө
  • 13:13 I beg to differ. I think Ota Benga was very clear on what he thought of his own life when he took it rather than live it further.

    LtJackbootLtJackbootСарын өмнө
  • THG tells it like It is. Beautifully

    Bill McDonoughBill McDonoughСарын өмнө
  • That was strong light shone on an ugly side of our civilization. Thanks History Guy for continuing to keep people like Ota in our mind so that we will choose a better path and not repeat these terrible practices of racism and dehumanizing of our fellow human beings.

    HH JonesHH Jones2 сарын өмнө
  • I love the way you ended this video. Work as a historian allows one to give a voice to those who were voiceless in their own lives.

    theoutlook55theoutlook552 сарын өмнө
  • History Guy, you ended this video perfectly! After reading the comments below, I assumed you would make some kind of white hating racist closing denouncing white people like a lot of the comments. Instead you made no opinion on what you felt or commented on what you felt he felt. You closed by saying that you told a story and could not assume who or what was right or wrong in this seemly sad story until you knew his side of the story. Until we know his thoughts we cannot judge whether his situation was tragic or delivering. I wish more people (especially journalist, hollywood, athletes, congressmen, SJW, etc.) stopped assuming and thinking their opinions are the facts. Just tell the story and let others think for themselves and make their own opinions. Thank you!

    Pete JuneauxPete Juneaux2 сарын өмнө

    Amador ValentinAmador Valentin2 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you for another interesting video History Guy, I had never heard of Ota Benga before

    Sam EyersSam Eyers2 сарын өмнө
  • No audio on several of your videos. I get audio on a bunch of other videos. This is only with yours. HELP!

    ChiefAUSChiefAUS2 сарын өмнө
    • It could be an issue with your speakers or maybe your device needs an update?

      Thor_Lock_habibiThor_Lock_habibi25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Is it possible he was murdered, to look like suicide? Thank you for sharing this with us, I had no clue about Ota Benga and the others or this happening 😥😥😥

    Keelie Kalay IdolKeelie Kalay Idol2 сарын өмнө
  • 0:59 At the hands of supposedly "civilised" men.

  • I will share my personal history. I was born in S. Korea in 1971. As a toddler I was working odd jobs and being a man of the house. At about 5 years old I was put in charge of an another toddler to take to a zoo near by. I had been to that zoo enough by myself. And i was comfortable going anywhere and not afraid. That day I let fear and anxiety stop me. For that fear killed that toddler of 3 years old. I froze and panicked at a four way busy road. I convinced that 3 year old to cross before me. For that that toddler was run over by 4 or 6 set of car tires. Later back at my house. My mother in a rage and temporarily insane tried to drown me. My neighbors stopped her. Shortly after my mother committed suicide. And some time later myself and my brother were shipped off to an orphanage. This orphanage run by habit wearing nuns and a priest. Used toddlers like myself and brother as slaves to put together fresh plastic holly ornaments. There dozens of toddlers at this orphanage. And all were forced to do this slave labor. In a windowless room in a out of the way place in the building. A large thick wooden door locked to keep us in. The smell from the small mountain of fresh plastic ornaments pieces. Made us sick and we would vomit or have other health issues. And when we made noise and ruckus. The nuns would come and drag out the loudest and most belligerent. Who refused to work or called out the nuns. That was me often. This refusal would result in a brutal beating with a large wooden paddle with holes. Some time later a white couple in the US wanted to adopt myself and brother. We stay a bit longer and then were transferred to another orphanage for pre-adoption. This orphanage was staffed by late teen college age kids. And a priest was the administrator. At the new place the staff of college age kids did nothing. It was the orphans who did all the work. As the college age staff spent their time parting and have sex out in the open. Porn was every where and foul language. The kids like me were hit and talked down to. I will leave off my history at this point.

    Mark MahanMark Mahan2 сарын өмнө
  • What humanity is there in people like the villains and those who could go watch a person put in a cage to look at. This is why I despair for the so called humans of humanity. I cry, weep, and rage at this vile treatment and the lies and apathy.

    Mark MahanMark Mahan2 сарын өмнө
  • The comments in here are so weak and pathetic. Do you people cry when you accidentally drop your keys?

    Calc UlatorCalc Ulator2 сарын өмнө
    • No, but we’re upset because we couldn’t help him or anyone else, we’re allowed to be emotional. With your attitude I wouldn’t be surprised if you beat your kids or spouse when they don’t comply with you.

      Thor_Lock_habibiThor_Lock_habibi25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Ota Benga's tragedy came because of Charles Darwin's The Ascent of Man, which laid the groundwork for Eugenics and later the half-assed racial theories of the Nazis. The fault needs to be laid at the foot of evolutionists.

    Kirk's Hair PieceKirk's Hair Piece2 сарын өмнө
  • Imagine if Humanity actually had the ability to learn the lessons of History rather than continually repeating mistakes from the past. Greed and the need for Fame and Power will always cause the destruction of civilizations in the end.

    TobyrabbitTobyrabbit2 сарын өмнө
  • What a heavy story. Makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

    Elizabeth ThomasElizabeth Thomas2 сарын өмнө
  • One of your best, sir.

    Thomas LongThomas Long2 сарын өмнө
  • I'm shocked that this happened anytime in America after 1863...AND that it happened in the North...AND that the closest he came to being treated as a human was in Virginia. As someone who is fascinated with human behavior, I'm curious what percentage of people found this to be horrible, but were afraid to say anything. I also wonder how I would've reacted living in that time.

    John CJohn C2 сарын өмнө
  • Dear History Guy, I know you probably have no say over what ads MNthe embeds into your material... That said, I was PROFOUNDLY disappointed to find a very long ad for this survivallife.familyprotectionassociation in this video. It's obviously for a white supremacists, gun toting, tRump-hugging group of just the kind of "patriots" this country needs to get rid of. I tried to report it, but found no clear way to do so. -Just thought that you ought to know, on the off chance that you DO have any say about what gets advertised in you content.

    Tadhg WrightTadhg Wright2 сарын өмнө
  • Every one of those white men considered themselves to be Christians. They weren't.

    Make Racists Afraid AgainMake Racists Afraid Again2 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you for telling of this poor, helpless man who just wanted go home. This was well done.

    white rabbit 1968white rabbit 19682 сарын өмнө
  • The fact that they repeatedly lied means they had criminal intent. You should list the newspapers that contributed to this crime.

    Ty RobertsTy Roberts2 сарын өмнө
  • What a terrible way to treat someone. We think this sort of behaviour is a relic of the past - and yet here we are, more than a hundred years later, and some of our museums are still resisting returning remains of people like Ota Benga, keeping them on display ... A Year or so back I visited a place here in Australia called Cherbourg in Queensland. Where I learned that oppressive behaviours by Governments I thought were merely a footnote of history, were still continuing into the 1980's. This was still going on at the time I joined that very same Government as an employee... The people of Cherbourg, and other government missions, were treated very poorly, in some ways worse than Ota Benga.

    Jack DawgJack Dawg2 сарын өмнө
  • This is horrific and never needs to be forgotten.

    Matt NicholsonMatt Nicholson2 сарын өмнө
  • As a Lynchburg Virginia native I do know he lived on Federal Hill and was sponsored by the Oppelmann family, that's about it. Except for..

    Freddy Marcel-MarcumFreddy Marcel-Marcum2 сарын өмнө
  • "A job's a job" -Ota Benga

    Freddy Marcel-MarcumFreddy Marcel-Marcum2 сарын өмнө
  • My god this is just wrong !! What the hell is wrong with people? ?

    Robin RodriguezRobin Rodriguez2 сарын өмнө
  • Sad history! Deserve to remembered and learnt from.

    Cornelis VolschenkCornelis Volschenk2 сарын өмнө
  • A very sad and sobering story--thanks for telling it. I had never heard of Ota Benga or this particular failure of common human decency. It is unthinkable that we could do this to a fellow human being. I appreciate the lesson in this story for all of us.

    Michelle CanfieldMichelle Canfield2 сарын өмнө
  • Such a sad history.

    culbered culberedculbered culbered2 сарын өмнө
  • In the summer of 1992 I attended the “Exposición Universal de Sevilla” in Spain. The usual you could spect from a world fair event. Dozens of pavilions from country’s all over the world showcasing “the best” each had to offer. It was hard to tell the moment when cultural identity morphed into stereotypes. I’m Mexican, and I was turned off by the sombrero,handle bar mustache, fiesta and siesta©️, happy drunk, chubby short man depicted in the poster and T-shirt sold in the souvenir shop at the Mexican pavilion. But when I visited the New Guinea exhibition... oh boy! The main atracción was an actual village, a hamlet rather. Fenced-in there were about 30 native individuals from all ages. Something like an extended family pretending to go on with their normal routines. All dressed with traditional costumes made out of plant material. The women, even adolescent ones, were topless. The men were wearing a penis ornament that looked like a horn pointing up and their balls hanging bare just below it..I don’t know, or remember, if it was the case of authentic New Guinean aborigines or if they were actors. Either case is abominable, but if they were real aborigines it would’ve been more like a zoo exhibition.The cultural exploitation was evident, and the it was one of the most visited exhibits within the fair, not so much for culture learning but for the sight of naked primitive people. Let me finish the same way I started: In the summer of 1992. NINETEEN NINETY TWO!

    FulanodetalFulanodetal2 сарын өмнө
  • I would like to see a video about the post-WW2 resistance that existed in Soviet occupied countries e.g. Ukraine, the Baltics.

    Balazs LengyelBalazs Lengyel2 сарын өмнө
  • science✋

    Daniel MartinezDaniel Martinez2 сарын өмнө
  • A sad story poignantly told by THG. I do wonder if perhaps he might have a black historian whom he could invite to tell this story. Perhaps it would be even more powerful and poignant.

    Michael BierbaumMichael Bierbaum2 сарын өмнө
  • You want to give a voice to the voiceless, please give one to factory farm animals.

    Great WhiteGreat White2 сарын өмнө
  • All living beings have souls, and none should be trapped in a zoo.

    Great WhiteGreat White2 сарын өмнө
  • Oh look, he's repeating lies about King Leopold II. Oi.

    Great WhiteGreat White2 сарын өмнө
  • Are Pygmies human tho?

    Great WhiteGreat White2 сарын өмнө
  • ......Thanks

    steve shoemakersteve shoemaker2 сарын өмнө
  • Way to go, humanity.

    Bored Public ServantBored Public Servant2 сарын өмнө
  • So sad.

    calvin scalvin s2 сарын өмнө
  • It seems the most cruelty sometimes is the treatment of man by fellow man. Such a sad ending. Thank you for this piece of history and important lesson I think.

    MrMatt1138MrMatt11382 сарын өмнө
  • Thanks for sharing stories like this one. Anthropology has come a long way in 100 years...

    Dan LaneDan Lane2 сарын өмнө
  • I wish I lived back then, those were the best days 😍❤️

    T ET E2 сарын өмнө
  • All of this horrible treatment is based on Charles Darwin's book "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" and his theory of evolution. Sadly he was considered by many to be subhuman. Poor man.

    1eyedjacksRwild1eyedjacksRwild2 сарын өмнө
  • This is just awful. Thank you for shining light on this terrible example of human exploitation.

    Andrew FrankeAndrew Franke2 сарын өмнө
  • an embarrasing and sad

    nancy wysemennancy wysemen2 сарын өмнө
  • “You have to be carefully taught” , For US or is it, ‘WE the People’, to be educated, let US all rise together. If I remember then it is History. If this is uncomfortable, all the better, Ota is the teacher. Thanks HG

    Robert MorrisRobert Morris2 сарын өмнө
  • Will the advanced aliens put us in zoo? Probably.

    greenspiraldragongreenspiraldragon2 сарын өмнө
  • This story sounds familiar. Like a lot of people in the entertainment industry he was managed for profit. It's also full of conflicting reports about the condition and situation of the performer. No one will ever know what truly happened.

    chas sisomchas sisom2 сарын өмнө
  • A perfect example of man's inhumanity to man. Just horrible.

    Godzilla fanGodzilla fan2 сарын өмнө
  • Disgusting that people even thought putting our fellow humans on display For Entertainment was right

    Elizabeth MurrayElizabeth Murray2 сарын өмнө
  • We still have a place to see the bizarre and weird of humans of all ethnic backgrounds. Instead of a zoo we call them Wal-marts.

    revrndskiprevrndskip2 сарын өмнө
  • The attitudes held then are alive and well today, as evidenced by those who support someone who refers to African nations as “shithole countries.”

    flyswryanflyswryan2 сарын өмнө
  • 😢😢😢!!!

    Arn ArninsonArn Arninson2 сарын өмнө
  • Someone left the cage door open. They'r everywhere now.

    Ronnie GRonnie G2 сарын өмнө
  • Great job buddy!

    Clayton HoltonClayton Holton2 сарын өмнө
  • One of your best sir one of your best I.. was choking up at the end , thanks you sir this definitely history that needs to be known !

    Jerry DillonJerry Dillon2 сарын өмнө
  • *Less tehnology advanced tribes exists* Imperialists: STONKS

    Unicornul SarvyUnicornul Sarvy2 сарын өмнө
  • Thank you. It is, perhaps, a peculiar fact of human emotion that in a history filled with racism, slavery, crusades, wars, genocides, holocausts, and exterminations practiced by people against people, a story like this still has a singular capacity to invoke both anger and disgust. We cannot (seemingly) wrap ours heads around too much death, or sadness, or tragedy. It's unfortunate, but we appear to need something smaller upon which to focus our attention; a representative case as it were. Perhaps one day that will change. I only hope that such change is not a prerequisite before we can recognize the humanity and fundamental personhood of each one of us, and act accordingly. tavi.

    Richard DeeseRichard Deese2 сарын өмнө
  • Sometimes I fear for humanity.

    djolley61djolley612 сарын өмнө
  • Man the ads on your channel Have quadrupled! Unsubscribing

    potatomonster7potatomonster72 сарын өмнө
  • Idk how hundreds of years of stuff like this goes by then almost completely stops for like 50 then still hasn't completely dissolved now and people the see this and talk about how far we have came smfh ....My great grandma was alive when this happened. History guy is by far the most educational channel I've every seen. Although it damn near boils my blood this was something that I WE needed to have shoved at us. I'm not taking away from the MLKs and Rosa parks and F. Douglas reports that so often dominates this month but THIS is truly educational. If one believes in the dooming repeated history adage then pieces like this are indeed educational salvation . Thank you H.G. you are immensely appreciated !

    The Mighty SagettoThe Mighty Sagetto2 сарын өмнө
  • Well done sir well done.

    Mark ShropshireMark Shropshire2 сарын өмнө
  • imma give that not the biggest yikes i have to offer, but close to it.

    GreyfellsGreyfells2 сарын өмнө
  • Absolutely heartbreaking to see what our country has been willing to do to Black people just to make a dollar. Fighting back tears. Thank you for sharing this story, as difficult as it was to watch.

    Michael AMichael A2 сарын өмнө
  • 😭😭😭⛓🔗thank you

    crystal harriscrystal harris2 сарын өмнө